Ohio Hosts 3rd Innovation Conference

By Raj Attiken

Adventists from across the United States, Canada, and Europe came together in Columbus recently for the third annual National Conference on Innovation. The core teaching faculty for the event were four nationally- known speakers: Dr. Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History and Religious Studies at Penn State University and author of over twenty scholarly books; Dr. Jon Paulien, Dean of the Faculty of Religion and Professor of Theological Studies at Loma Linda University and author of over 18 books; Doug Pagitt, pastor of Solomon's Porch, a Christian church community in Minneapolis, Minn.; and Rabbi Marcia Prager, Dean of ALEPH, Alliance for Jewish Renewal, and rabbi of Jewish Renewal Communities in Philadelphia and Princeton, N.J.

The objective of the 2007 Conference was to understand the changing context of world Christianity and how churches are responding to the resulting challenges and opportunities, with the goal of finding ways to renew and reenergize the Adventist Church here in North America.

Describing the growing role of global South nations (Africa, Latin America, Asia) in Christianity, and their varying approaches to Scripture, Jenkins described how the distinctive values held by the Adventist Church can have positive impact in this changing environment. Jon Paulien established a theological framework for the identity and role of the remnant within the emerging global context. Doug Pagitt offered a case study of Solomon's Porch, an unusual contemporary Christian community of which he is pastor. Rabbi Prager traced the history of Jewish Renewal, with sample Renewal teachings on subjects like prayer and the Sabbath. Breakout groups explored how the information presented applied to Adventist life, ministry, congregations and schools. The entire experience was an inspiring affirmation of the Adventist Church's role and responsibility to be a vital presence in advancing God's mission on earth.

Features such as an Innovation Expo of cutting- edge ministries, video profiles of innovative ministries, and networking meals, helped make the 2007 National Conference on Innovation an energizing experience. Vervent, the North American Division Ministries Resource Center, awarded its first Innovative Church of the Year award to Pastor David Jamieson from the Aldergrove Seventh- day Adventist Church in British Columbia.

The National Conference on Innovation is an annual gathering for persons interested in, and committed to, the future of Adventism, and is hosted by a group of individuals and organizations, including the Ohio Conference. The 2008 event is scheduled for October 5- 7 in Columbus.